Justifying the Means

My fellow Librarian Bryan’s post “Is College Worth the Effort?” made me really rethink and reconsider if all the hard work, the blood, sweat, and tears, were actually worth the effort. With someone who has a lot on their plate educational-wise, I wonder if I bit more than I could chew. I think this situation is best compared to that of Andrew Neiman’s in Whiplash.

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Photo ©2011 by Betsy Streeter [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Junior year is the hardest year of my life so far. I have 5 AP classes stacked on top of one another, in addition to a video journalism class as well as weekly guitar lessons. Though the latter two do not sound like much work, someone like me, who did not have to juggle multiple extracurriculars growing up, struggles to maintain consistency with time management. The hours spent doing homework, studying, and worrying about my classes is mentally and physically draining. The bimonthly packages (video segments) due often cut into free time as well as school time, and the little free time I have left over conflicts with the daily practice of guitar I should be compelled to do. Are all of these factors of stress really worth the effort I put into them? Many times the weight I feel upon my shoulders is too great of a burden to bear and I regret taking upon so many responsibilities. However, there is something to be learned about this from Whiplash.

In Whiplash, the protagonist Andrew Neiman desires to be among the “greats” in drumming history. However, he is put into his school’s studio band headed by Conductor Terence Fletcher, who is known to be abusive, both verbally and physically to his students. Everything Andrew does to be greater is denied by Fletcher. Andrew loses sleep and skin from countless hours of bloody practice just to meet Fletcher’s standards, but it still isn’t enough. Like me, he questions if becoming one of the “greats” is worth the torture he is subjected to for little to no success. Though Andrew stops drumming for a brief period in the movie, he picks it up again in the end, blowing Fletcher away with the amazing level of drumming Fletcher wanted Andrew to attain under his guidance.

I believe the ends do indeed justify the means, though which ends those are vary from person to person. To Andrew and Fletcher, it was that one amazing performance, that one solo that would blow everyone away, to justify the countless hours and blood and damage done. And to me, I think it is that one graduation day where I walk across the stage, hearing my name being spoken in front of thousands, that one episode where I am proud of my package being shown in front of the school, and that one night where I can play a song I’ve worked on for hours, which justifies everything.

– Edward

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One thought on “Justifying the Means

  1. “I believe the ends do indeed justify the means, though which ends those are vary from person to person.”

    I think acknowledging the variation of goals from one individual to another is important in determining your own definition of success and confidently working toward that. So I consider what you’ve said a poignant sentiment.

    “Like me, he questions if becoming one of the “greats” is worth the torture he is subjected to for little to no success.”

    My junior year, I also took 5 AP classes among other extracurricular activities. Some of what I battled with that year included the stress of doing well on tests like the PSAT and SAT. My peers who did academically well seemed more certain about what their plans would be after high school. Or at the very least, they seemed to be more determined to find their paths in regard to colleges, degrees, and careers they wanted.

    They worked toward that by doing well while I, on the other hand, felt lost. I withdrew from my significant other at the time to do well in school. I made concessions with the thought that my future would benefit from my actions now.

    Overall, the effort I channeled into my AP classes was well worth it for college. I would say, consider whether your prospective universities will accept those credits (if you even want to attend college/university). Perhaps the stress ultimately isn’t worth the outcome for you. But I offer that thought as the devil’s advocate.

    Good luck with your work. I hope you go further with your goals.

    Like

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